When Paula Hyman of Michael and Paula Hyman Showroom at America's Mart agreed to be interviewed, I was so excited because she is a wealth of knowledge and one of the most successful showrooms at America's Mart in Atlanta, GA.
I have known Paula since I was a graduate student at Auburn University. I took undergraduate fashion students to market so they could learn the wholesale side of the business. Paula was always welcoming and was the first showroom owner to create mock buying appointments for my students. She would personally give tours to multiple groups of students and then ask her buyers to help with the mock appointments. She is dedicated to educating others about the industry she loves and success she has achieved. No matter if you understand or love fashion, wholesale, buying, or sales - this interview is for you. She shares what she looks for in employees in the interview and when they are hired.
Great advice to any professional as they seek to grow.
1. What does perspective mean to you?
Perspective is how you see the world. There are many truths, but they are only your truths. It is extremely important to appreciate and respect the perspective of others and be willing to see things through their eyes. Basically, we can all learn and grow. My business is successful because I am willing to open my eyes, hear others and adapt or change direction when it is called for.
2. From a successful professional’s perspective, what is your advice for others who are seeking to grow in their career?
Be humble, see the big picture and do not get bogged down by the small stuff. In business, you will continually be faced with what seems to be insurmountable obstacles. Prioritize, overcome #1 and then #2. Don’t hide behind the easy problems.
Years ago, we had a successful “missy” (older clientele) business and represented several strong brands. But, in general, all we could do was work extremely hard just to maintain with no chance to grow the business. The young contemporary market was emerging, and the handwriting was on the wall. We needed to completely change the direction of our business. This was a tough and scary decision, but we decided to make the change and do it professionally. We wrote letters to our customers to inform them of our decision and invited them, if interested, to join us on the journey towards young contemporary. In addition, we notified our existing brands and assisted them in finding a new sales representative. We went above and beyond to make sure everyone understood our strategic change in direction, with as little disruption as possible.
3. From your perspective as a leader, what is one thing that you wish employees understand or did more often?
From my perspective, I want my employees to be humble and try to see things from the customer’s point of view. We are all fallible and when we recognize this and listen to our customers, they are flattered and impressed. I want my employees to be knowledgeable, professional, to pay attention to detail and show empathy when needed. Also, to understand we are a team and that all must work towards the same goal.
4. From an interviewer perspective, what are you most interested in in the interview?
When I interview a perspective employee, I want to feel, from that person, a willingness to learn and contribute to the team. In addition, I have each of my employees interview the applicant to give me their feedback. From my perspective, the team must work cohesively, so that each employees input is important and valuable.
5. From a business perspective, what should other leaders be aware of as they grow?
You must be aware that change is inevitable.You must constantly be willing to adapt and evolve, even when it is scary.You must communicate with your staff in a way that all are able to see the big picture.
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